On Tuesday night against Providence Coach Bruce Weber decided to stay with the veterans a little longer. "I didn't play some of the younger guys like I wanted to; I stayed with the kids that have been here before," said Weber. The consequence with that is long-term we'll need this deep bench that everyone talks about.
The bench that we all talk so highly of didn't get much playing time the other night. Center Aaron Spears played eight minutes, guard Richard McBride played four minutes, forward Brian Randle played seven minutes, center Jack Ingram played seven and forward Warren Carter has played a season total of 33 minutes in 6 games.
Do I understand that Weber has a numbers problem? Sure I do. But I also know going through the Big Ten season that Dee Brown, Deron Williams and James Augustine will need a good break from time to time. If this team is going to be as good as most thought, the bench will have to step in and produce. There will be some growing pains - Randle throwing soft passes, McBride missing his first couple shots, Aaron Spears not blocking out - but if they are to learn the game, time can be a great antibiotic.
Let's face it. Teams saw what happened the other night. To be honest, we were well scouted. Let's give credit where credit is due. Against Temple our "bigs" would screen on the block for a guard and then slip the screen for a pass from Deron Williams to James Augustine for a lay-up. But not in the Providence game - Mr. Tim Welsh took that away a couple times.
Tonight the Illini face an opponent unlike UNC, Providence or Memphis, so this could be a game where the toddlers get to gain some confidence. Remember, "in Bruce we trust."
#42 Brain Randle goes by defender